Fund education, invest in girl-child to achieve SDGs, UNICEF urges govt

cowbellThe United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) country representative in Nigeria, Ms. Jean Gough, has advised the Federal Government to adequately fund education and invest heavily in girl-child education so as to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Goal Four.

Speaking during the Cowbellpedia television quiz competition in Lagos, Gough, represented by the Chief of Field Office, Charles Nzuki, regretted that in spite of the country’s natural resources, Nigeria was still among countries that harbour the highest number of out-of-school children.

She said there was an urgent need for leaders to commence feasible plans on how to achieve the targets, since it has been certified that great opportunities lie in the newly launched SDGs.

She also advised that education of the girl-child should not be neglected as it remain very critical to the development of the African continent.

She said, “SDGs are global goals that governments and world leaders have agreed upon with set of targets relating to countries development. These agreed goals may be the beginning of an important path ahead for us in the coming years. The new SDGs for 2030 talks about inclusive and equitable quality of education and life-long learning for all.

For us, Goal Four is of particular interest being the goal for education. It talks about access to learning opportunities and the quality of schooling. It also adds early childhood learning to the agenda and aims to ensure that education is accessible to all children, whether girl, boy, disabled, indigenous or living in a vulnerable situation.

Gough continued, “The first issue to look at in achieving these goals is education financing. Despite its richness, Nigeria has one of the largest number of children out of school in the world. Nigerian education sector requires a drastic increase in finance. The gap between the expenditure and the amount needed to achieve universal primary needs to be projected. Governments and partners will need to make difficult choices in prioritising and sequencing their investments in education.”

She also stressed that the issue of early childhood and pre-primary schooling; inclusion and equity, as well as learning outcomes should be prioritised.

While calling for increased investment in the education of the girl-child, she highlighted that literate girls or mothers are more aware of societal challenges.

Listing the gains inherent in girl child education, she said, “If all women had secondary education, there would be 49 per cent fewer child deaths in low and lower middle income countries. Children of more educated mothers are more likely to receive vaccines; see a doctor if they are sick; receive rehydration if they have diarrhoea; sleep under insecticide-treated nets; and benefit from other health-related practices.
“If all women completed primary education, maternal mortality would fall by 66 per cent, saving the lives of close to 200,000 women every year. Education of the girl-child and young ones, is the single best, most cost-effective opportunity to break cycles of poverty once and for all. Evidence clearly shows that only one year of secondary education for a girl correlates with as much as a 25 per cent increase in wages later in life -wages that can help support children, a family and a future.”

Gough commended organisers of Cowbellpedia mathematics quiz show, the Federal Ministry of Education and other stakeholders for striving towards “Education for All,” in the country.

Meanwhile, as the ongoing Cowbellpedia competition hits the finals on Monday, November 2, 2015, finalists, including their teachers are of high spirit over who would eventually emerge champion.

Out of the 108 junior and secondary school students that emerged after the preliminaries, only 12 made it to the finals. There are six finalists in the junior and another six in the senior categories.

Those who qualified in the junior category are: Abdulmueez Yusuf from Nigerian Turkish International College, Abuja; Munachi Ernest-Eze and Ayomide Fadipe, Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja; Ajoke Taiwo, Scholars Universal Secondary School, Ota; Olabisi Bello, Dansol High School, Lagos; and Evans Owamoyo from Greater Tomorrow International College, Arigidi.

In the senior category, Joshua Mukot from Emilis Academy, Calabar qualified for the finals; Inibehe Otoho (Topfaith International Secondary School, Mkpatak; Titilayo Adewale-Fasoro, from Hallmark Secondary School, Itanla, Ondo State; Mariam Sanni, Ota Total Academy, Otta; Ayomide Kamaldeen, Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja; and Ayodeji Akinkuowo, from Adeyemi Demonstration Secondary School, Ondo state.

The qualifiers, however, at the last edition of the 13-week contest, expressed optimism on their chances of winning the competition sponsored by Promasidor Nigeria Limited.

According to Ajoke, her expectation is nothing short of first position. Other contestants, Olabisi, Ayomide and Abdumueez also expressed confidence they will win, even though Olabisi, said she was a bit nervous as the finals approach.

Their teachers too are full of expectation that their students will win the much-coveted prize.

Mathematics teacher at Adeyemi Demonstration School, Mr. Oyewole Peters, was optimistic that his candidate will emerge the overall best. He said his team had put in place everything required to ensure victory for their student.

Another teacher, Mr. Oyegbile Isaac Olwagbemiga of Hallmark Second School, added, “I believe we have put everything in place, and also believe that God will give us, that is, my student and my school, the garment of glory.”

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